28-story, 290-unit mixed use project proposed by Carmel Partners for 1056 S. La Cienega Blvd.
The Carmel Partners development group has proposed a new 28-story, 290-unit mixed use (residential and retail) project for 1050 S. La Cienega Blvd., just south of Olympic Blvd. and across La Cienega from the Temple Beth Am synagogue.
The project, which has been in the very early planning stages for about a year now, since Carmel bought the long-vacant site from another developer, was formally introduced to the community at a town hall meeting on July 14, attended by more than 100 participants.
As currently proposed, the development would contain 290 residential units, with 29 of those (as required under the city’s Transit Oriented Communities guidelines) reserved for Extremely Low Income tenants. (According Carmel Partners representatives Will Cipes and Dave Rand, in the developers’ presentation, the ELI units would likely rent for about $394/month for single units, $452/mo. for one-bedrooms, and $509/mo. for two-bedroom units. The remainder of the units would rent at market rates, likely about $2,600/mo. for singles, $3,500-$5,000/mo. for one-bedroom units, and $5,500/mo. to $6,000/mo. for two-bedroom units, depending on market conditions when the building is completed.)
There would also be 426 parking stalls in the building (more than the minimum required by the city for TOC projects), 7,500 square feet of “community-serving” retail space, and a 4,500 square foot pocket park, which would be open to the public. A second-floor roof deck (as shown in the photo above) would contain additional open space and amenities for residents.
The building’s design would also contain several elements – such as white stucco, arches, and a pedestrian paseo by the retail entrances at ground level – borrowed from the area’s more historic architecture.
According to the developers, the project is “by right” and needs no variances or specific entitlements under the TOC guidelines. Because of its size, however, it does require a site plan review, a public review process, and a Sustainable Communities Environmental Assessment (similar to an Environmental Impact Report, but designed specifically for projects – like transit-oriented developments – that support goals for fighting climate change).
The developers also noted that the project will restore utility access to the vacant site, and thus provide “the lynchpin for an infrastructure improvement” in the area.
In a Q&A session following the main presentation at the town hall meeting, a handful of housing activists expressed enthusiastic support for the amount of housing the project will add. But a much larger number of area residents also expressed concerns with the building’s height (it would be, by far, the tallest structure in the area south of Wilshire Blvd.)…as well as questions about the kinds of retailers that might be interested in the limited amount of space provided, the value of the pocket park, traffic impacts on the neighborhood (especially the likelihood of cut-through traffic in adjacent residential areas), and – most importantly – the project’s potential effects on the historic South Carthay neighborhood, separated by just a property line on the east side of the project site. (The neighborhood is part of the Carthay Neighborhoods Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and is also protected by an Historic Preservation Overlay Zone.) The project representatives said, however, that all of these will be studied during the upcoming environmental review.
Finally at the town hall meeting, there were also several questions about why the developers are favoring such a tall tower instead of creating a shorter, denser structure spread out over more of the available space. But the representatives said that if they did this, there would be far less open space around the project, so its impacts on the neighborhood – including shadows, affected views, and more – could actually be greater than with the current design.
After the presentation, one neighborhood resident, who asked not to be named, told the Buzz that the adjacent neighborhood will be looking at all of these issues, and more, over the next few weeks and months, with particular attention to how the project fits into the overall historic context of the area (especially its scale and massing). Neighbors will also be discussing environmental concerns such as noise, air pollution, traffic flow, shadows…and whether or not the project is, as the developers claimed, fully by right under the TOC guidelines. And there is also a concern, the neighbor said, that if the developers get this project approved, it will pave the way for more large-scale buildings in the area.
At the same time, however, the neighbor said that doesn’t mean local residents are opposed to developing the site. Jjust that they would prefer that the resulting building be closer to 15 than 30 stories. “No one said they can’t do 290 units. Just can there be more considerate, respectful and more options than this?”
Also, according to the resident, even though the developers were caught up in the ongoing bribery case against former City Councilmember Jose Huizar (though they will not face charges in that case), they have actually been quite responsive so far to neighborhood requests to clean up the long-derelict site on La Cienega, so the neighbors are looking forward to further information, discussions and negotiations as the project takes shape, and hope there can be a productive give and take in the process. The neighbor also noted, however, that the Carthay community is quite organized and aware, so the developers will need to do their homework. “We’re pretty tough,” said the resident.
Temple Beth Am and the City of Beverly Hills, which are also adjacent to the development site on the west side of La Cienega, have not yet weighed in on the project.
[NOTE: this story was updated after its initial publication to correct the description of the parking provided in the project.]